The US has reacted warily after Iran appeared to accept a deal to swap enriched uranium for nuclear fuel. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran would have "no problem" if most of its stock was held for several months before being returned as fuel rods.The US said that if this was a new offer, it was "prepared to listen".
A deal struck in October between Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the so-called P5+1 - the US, Russia, China, UK, France plus Germany - envisaged Iran sending about 70% of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France where it would be processed into fuel for a research reactor.
Last month, however, diplomats said Iran had told the IAEA that it did not accept the terms of the deal and had instead demanded a simultaneous exchange on its territory. But, in a state TV interview on Tuesday, president Ahmadinejad in asuprise move dismissed the concerns of his "colleagues" that the West would retain the uranium and said that he had ´no problem´ with the swap.
Soon after the statement, Iranian state TV announced the successful launch of a satellite rocket carrying an "experimental capsule". The Kavoshgar 3 (Explorer) rocket was carrying an “experimental capsule”, state-owned Al-Alam television reported. State television’s website said it was carrying “live animals” — a rat, turtles and worms, the first such experiment by Iran in space technology.
State television also carried pictures of President Ahmadinejad unveiling another home-built rocket for satellite launches dubbed the Simorgh (Phoenix).
The milk-bottle shaped rocket, emblazoned in blue with the words “Satellite Carrier Simorgh,” is equipped to carry a 100-kilogram satellite 500 kilometres into orbit, the television report said.
The 27-metre tall multi-stage rocket weighs 85 tonnes and its liquid fuel propulsion system has a thrust of up to 100 tonnes, the report added.
The defence minister Ahmad Vahidi revealed the details of three new satellite prototypes — the Toloo (Dawn), Navid (Good News), and Mesbah-2 (Lantern).
“Toloo is a satellite used for remote survey and weighs 100 kilograms. It is planned to be placed in 500 kilometre orbit for three years,” Mr Vahidi said.
The Simorgh (Phoenix) rocket is able to place a satellite weighing 100 kilos in 500 kilometre orbit,” Mr Vahidi said, adding that a further refinement of the same design would allow satellites to placed in 1,000 kilometre orbit.The satellite launch and the unveiling of the new prototypes came as Iran marked “Space Technology Day” as part of celebrations for the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution.
Iran launched its first home-built satellite, the Omid (Hope), in February last year to coincide with the 30th anniversary.